There so many holidays during December I feel like saying “Merry Everything” to be inclusive, but someone will think it offensive. Christmas used to be distinctly red and green in bright jewel tones but who dictated that color combo and why. If you look at vintage Christmas cards, they use a muddier palette. I don’t mind if you wish me a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or Happy Festivus. It’s the intention behind the good wishes that matter. Do holiday colors really matter?
Hanukkah used to be shades of gold but mostly the blue of the Israeli flag but Hanukkah existed long before the State of Israel. Why are we slaves to color choices? Sure there are variations and subtle tones these days but the traditional color combos continue to exert a powerful pull. They influence mood and that includes shopping. Can you imagine a Holiday ad for Macy’s in hot pink and not their traditional red? Way too risky. I like to color outside the lines all year round. Never mind thinking outside the box. Let’s think outside the color wheel. This is an odd color combo and holiday card from me. I’ll probably feel guilty and pop out a traditional Hanukkah, Yule and Christmas Card. Who knows, maybe even Kwanzaa. What do you think? Interesting or epic fail?
Thinking more deeply on colors and their meanings I remembered a poem by the wonderful Jewish, feminist cat lover poet, Marge Piercy from ~Southern California Anthology ~ 1999. If you aren’t familiar with her fiction and non-fiction work, visit her website and enjoy.
Colors passing through us
Purple as tulips in May, mauve
into lush velvet, purple
as the stain blackberries leave
on the lips, on the hands,
the purple of ripe grapes
unlit and warm as flesh.
Every day I will give you a color,
like a new flower in a bud vase
on your desk. Every day
I will paint you, as women
color each other with henna
on hands and on feet.
Red as henna, as cinnamon,
as coals after the fire is banked,
the cardinal in the feeder,
the roses tumbling on the arbor
their weight bending the wood
the red of the syrup I make from petals.
Orange as the perfumed fruit
hanging their globes on the glossy tree,
orange as pumpkins in the field,
orange as butterflyweed and the monarchs
who come to eat it, orange as my
cat running lithe through the high grass.
Yellow as a goat’s wise and wicked eyes,
yellow as a hill of daffodils,
yellow as dandelions by the highway,
yellow as butter and egg yolks,
yellow as a school bus stopping you,
yellow as a slicker in a downpour.
Here is my bouquet, here is a sing
song of all the things you make
me think of, here is oblique
praise for the height and depth
of you and the width too.
Here is my box of new crayons at your feet.
Green as mint jelly, green
as a frog on a lily pad twanging,
the green of cos lettuce upright
about to bolt into opulent towers,
green as Grand Chartreuse in a clear
glass, green as wine bottles.
Blue as cornflowers, delphiniums,
bachelors’ buttons. Blue as Roquefort,
blue as Saga. Blue as still water.
Blue as the eyes of a Siamese cat.
Blue as shadows on new snow, as a spring
azure sipping from a puddle on the blacktop.
Cobalt as the midnight sky
when day has gone without a trace
and we lie in each other’s arms
eyes shut and fingers open
and all the colors of the world
pass through our bodies like strings of fire.
Marge Piercy ~ Southern California Anthology ~ 1999